This is the Gospel Podcast
About this podcast
The stories we tell matter. They can build our faith, help us empathize with others, demonstrate the true power of God in our lives, and help lead us to Christ. This Is the Gospel, a new storytelling podcast from LDS Living, collects and shares personal stories that illustrate the challenges and triumphs of living in the latter days.
About this podcast
The stories we tell matter. They can build our faith, help us empathize with others, demonstrate the true power of God in our lives, and help lead us to Christ. This Is the Gospel, a new storytelling podcast from LDS Living, collects and shares personal stories that illustrate the challenges and triumphs of living in the latter days.
This is the Gospel Podcast
We Are All Connected
Stories in this episode: Julie, Whitney, & Brooke each have a story to tell about the struggle and surprises of a life lived in pursuit of discipleship, but they can't tell their story without one another and they can't tell their story without the extraordinary life of Jonah, the little boy who brought them all together. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: The sudden loss of his corporate job throws Dave into a new and sometimes confusing role at home; Jenny's once-thriving life is upended by an unwelcome diagnosis that offers her a powerful connection to some of her Church History idols. Get more info and shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel or find us on instagram and facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast TRANSCRIPT Coming soon... Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Letting the Light In
During a grueling, marathon recording of the concert film Lamb of God, cellist Nicole does what no musician working long hours ever wants to do. She asks composer and conductor Rob Gardner if they can record her difficult solo—again. In this song, called “Gethsemane," Nicole's cello represents the Savior. Rerecording pushes Nicole to her physical and emotional limits, but it is there that she not only finds the ability to depict Christ through the cello, but also learns about the Savior's ability to heal the darkness in her life. View shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Follow us on instagram and facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast Transcript: KaRyn 0:03 Welcome to "This Is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. I remember the first time I learned that there was even a thing called symbolism. It was in my ninth grade English class and we were reading "Silas Marner," the 1861 classic by George Eliot. I thought George Eliot was so cool because she was a woman writing with a man's name. But what I didn't think was cool was the way Miss Terse, my English teacher whose name aptly described her personality, mind you, how Miss Terse kept pointing out the number three throughout the book. "Oh, look, the chair has three legs. Oh, look, there are three stars in the sky." I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the number three even mattered. I distinctly remember using this as a jumping off point for some truly terrible junior high awfulness toward Miss Terse. I don't know if she's still teaching at a junior high somewhere in Pennsylvania and even if she is, I really doubt she's a podcast listener. But if by some small chance you're listening, Miss Terse, I was wrong. Please forgive me for being 14 because symbolism is now one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. The fact that we can find connection and meaning by seeing ourselves in our emotions reflected in the world around us. To me, that is one of the deepest beauties of being alive on this earth. Now, I still have no idea what the number three symbolizes. But the symbol of light is actually pretty easy. It's goodness, it's hope reflected in the life of Jesus Christ. In fact, we learn about the symbol in John chapter eight, verse 12, when Christ teaches, "I am the light of the world, he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." And today, we have one beautiful story from Nicole all about light and pain and music and symbolism. But more importantly, it's about Christ and His ability to show us what light can really do for those of us who long to be made whole. Here's Nicole. Nicole 2:20 I have this sign that hangs in my office and it says, "A positive thinker sees opportunity in every difficulty. A negative thinker sees difficulty in every opportunity." Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about forgiveness. I had a really painful experience and to get to the other side of that experience, I had to forgive someone. And it was an act, I considered unforgivable. That wasn't the kind of thing that was just going to go away. It was going to have really lasting consequences not just for a long time, but to a real depth in my life. I just got really down. I'm usually really positive person and so I went through the motions of life and just tried to keep my spirits up and push it out of my mind. But the more I tried to push it out of my mind, the more power it seemed to have over me, especially late at night. I stopped sleeping, really started worrying a lot and that's really not very good for anyone. In the meantime, I was having all these cool things happen in my career. What I do for a living is play the cello. And really what that means to be a professional cellist, at least for me, is I get to do three different things. I get to teach children, which I absolutely love. I get to record really cool music. And then I also perform.I used to perform a lot but, of course, performing lately doesn't really happen. During this difficult time, I was given the opportunity to do something really amazing, which was to record a concert film of the oratorio the "Lamb of God" by Rob Gardner. An oratorio is when someone tells a story, but they tell that story through singing. Unlike a musical or opera, it's not really acted out. Singers just stand in front of an orchestra and choir that's, you know, the most common way in oratory is sung. The most common oratory most people would have heard of is "The Messiah." Now, "The Messiah" is about Jesus Christ. This oratorio [the "Lamb of God"] is also about Jesus Christ. In this oratorio, the cello, that instrument I play, represents the voice of Christ. So I have to admit, I was super intimidated because that is a role I never expected to play in my life—and I'm a very human person. At the same time, it made sense because like all the human characters in the life of Christ are represented through people on stage. So it was really a brilliant way of communicating the divine. The cello represents Jesus. The violin also represents a divine person, he represents Heavenly Father. And by the way, if you end up listening to this piece, the cello doesn't always represent Christ. There's a theme that represents Christ. And it's like this. There are different ways that theme appears, and the marker really is a step down and then a leap up. That's when you know that Jesus is speaking. Recording is always hard. It's never easy. But this was a particularly difficult recording. We did not record to the click. What recording to click means is that there's like a metronome and everyone's earpiece so that the timing of the piece is exactly the same every time you play it. This is how almost everything is recorded, all the time, everywhere. Because what happens is, we're all human beings, even skilled musicians. If we play a song three times in a row, we might play one section best the third time, another section best the first time and another section best the second time. Or we might play a whole song fabulously, but five seconds is not good. Well, when you record the click, you can take a few seconds from one take, and just snippet into another take and it works. But if you record without click, then you really must play the whole piece not just perfectly, because that's the wrong word for music, you must play the piece with spectacular precision and exquisite emotion over and over. That is what we were trying to do. We were doing this recording during COVID, which means that we basically had to record the project as fast as we could before anybody got sick and as safely as we could. What should have been like maybe eight hours a day recording for five days in a row, we instead recorded for almost 12 hours two days in a row. The reason it's so unusual for music to be recorded this way is tiny muscles don't take the abuse that big muscles and the mind do. The voice gets tired, the fingers get tired, lips get tired. So it's really unusual to ever be asked to record more than eight hours in a day. In fact, a recording day is more like five hours, which makes people think we don't work very hard for what we do. But let me tell you, musicians work so hard singers work so hard. So that was one of the things that made this challenging the compressed schedule. Then there's the weirdness that goes on. Right now, we're all in masks, we're trying not to talk to each other. There was a lot that was really challenging, but there were really many cool parts of this process. And playing the music was definitely the best part. I've been able to play a lot of concerts since COVID, which is really unusual. But they've all been really small intimate projects. This one involved a lot of people. Even though we weren't talking to each other and socializing, we were making a lot of music together. So here we are in the middle of this process, trying to tell this really grand, magnificent story. I have the responsibility of expressing the voice of God and we come to this song that's called "Gethsemane." "Gethsemane" is about what happens in the garden, which is the Atonement. The Atonement is such a difficult thing for a human being to wrap their head around, obviously, we're not capable. At the same time, it's important that we make that effort to understand what it is. So here comes the melody of Jesus, the one I told you about where it goes back and forth down and then rises up. There's some narration at the beginning of "Gethsemane," and then you come to the voice of Christ. It's so beautifully written. It's really hard for a composer to write for a string player, most composers use the piano to write, and pianos have five fingers. The string players only can use four fingers at a time. Many brilliant composers don't understand this. Rob totally does. He writes melodies that work for string players, they fit under the hand, they fit across the strings. It's like he plays the cello. Except at the end of "Gethsemane," the cello has to make these really awkward leaps. I didn't know how I was going to execute them gracefully. This is the most magnificent moment in history. This is why I believe in the Savior. So how am I going to pull this off? Rob starts conducting and I'm thinking to myself, "Okay, I've got one shot to portray it well, beautifully. I think I can do that, which is a lot of confidence there. But this thing coming up farther on, oh my gosh, how am I going to make that sound good? Let alone be in tune, let alone be connected. So I prayed for help. I was blessed with a calm feeling and the presence of a word—Abba. It's my understanding that Abba is a really unique and remarkable name for father because it doesn't really mean father, it means daddy. At the same time, it indicates a real depth of respect for a father while having this really sweet connection as daddy. So with that feeling, I was able to play through "Gethsemane" and Rob was happy with it. So we went on. But even though I recognize the beauty of that gift, of that experience, the truth is that I didn't think I had done it good enough. It just kind of kept nagging at me and I was trying to decide, "Okay, am I being too hard on myself? Do I really need to play it again? Am I being inspired somehow?" I actually ruminated about this overnight, and came back to recording the next day. As I had more clarity, this phrase kept coming to mind. The phrase is, "The Lord appreciates effort." That quote comes from President Nelson. Every time I would think of that, I kept thinking of him smiling when he said it. So I thought, you know, "I think I need to play this again." I got the guts up to ask Rob. I was kind of worried about what he'd say beause it's really expensive to ask an orchestra, a choir, the camera, the lights, the team, the facility, say "Oh, Rob, I know you consider that song done and who knows how much money it's gonna cost but can we play it again?" So anyway, I got the guts up and he was so nice about he said, "Hey, sure, that'd be great. We can rerecord 'Gethsemane' when the whole rest of the oratory is finished." I must admit, I thought to myself, "Yay!" I think because I was pretty wiped out already by then, but it made sense. We had to finish so if we had time to go back, we would. We finished the oratorio and only the replay of "Gethsemane" was left. I was excited. I was scared. My arms were on fire. My neck was on fire. My back was on fire. I guess it's kind of like an athlete at the end of a marathon. I've never run a marathon but at that point, I was in the marathon of cello playing. My mind was tired, my muscles were tired. I didn't really think that I could actually play this any better at this moment because I wasn't fresh. I wasn't at my best. And, you know, I'm trying to act like none of that's happening because this is my job. I am a professional, at least I try to be. But I had asked for it. So what am I supposed to say? My thoughts were kind of racing, but I took some deep breaths. I thought, "This is gonna be just fine. It's gonna be okay." And then right at that moment, I noticed some drops of blood on the floor. I was like, "Oh my gosh, I'm bleeding." It sounds worse than it really was because for string players and pianists, honestly, our calluses split open in the winter all the time. There's not a lot of feeling to the calluses. So for me, the way I deal with it, some people super glue it shut, but I just stick a bandage on it and some ointment. Luckily, a violist had some handy so I got rescued, put the bandage on my thumb, and he [Rob] started conducting. Well, as soon as I put my bow on the string and started playing, I realized that it wasn't just that my callus had split but the thumb, the nail was separating from the skin of my thumb. So even though I was holding my bow really lightly, just that little bit of pressure, and every time I moved, I was pulling the skin away from the nail. This had never happened to me before. It was so painful. I really didn't know how I was going to keep playing. But I knew I shouldn't stop. The musician never stops. So I prayed again. This time, I really cried out in my mind, like, "Help." And right away, it felt as if there were hands on my head. I recognize the feeling. That's that's what it feels like when you receive a priesthood blessing. And even though the pain was excruciating, it didn't change the pain, I knew that there was an angel there. I didn't really have a sense of who it was, but I knew I was being blessed and it comforted me. We went through the piece. To be honest, because it hurts so much I didn't have a lot of awareness of how it was sounding. I was really connecting with that warmth of that feeling. So when it was all done, you know, Rob gives the conductor cue. He looked over at me and smiled warmly and said, "That was absolutely beautiful. Thank you, Nicole, would you like to do that again?" I didn't want to tell him and what bad shape I was in and what had happened to my thumb. But I looked up and I looked at everyone's faces around me and I could tell everybody was just as tired as I was. I'm usually pretty professional at sessions. I tried to behave professionally, but I looked around and I opened my mouth and I said, "I can't. That's too much pressure." Everybody just cracked up because, you know, they're not used to anyone talking like that. So we all just cracked up. And Rob just said, "Well, hey, listen, we're here. So let's do it again." And I thought to myself, "Oh my gosh, typical musician, typical conductor. Of course, you gave him the choice, he's gonna say, "Let's do it again." It's the musicians only lie: one more time. So we started again. This time, the pain was just as bad as before and I cried out in my mind for a third time. This time I expected a miracle, right? This time, nothing happened. I didn't feel hands. I didn't feel an angel. I didn't hear voice. I felt so alone. I felt so abandoned. So what I did to deal with it, is I just like crawled inside my head. I crawled inside my body. What was really amazing about what happened then is I found an awareness of my fingers that I'd never had before. My fingers like had a mind of their own. They started just flying through those notes like they had lived their whole life for this moment. Me, the person, I had just been along for the ride this whole time. So we got to the end, Rob gave the cut off. I just listened to the silence. I looked up, and all of a sudden, everyone started cheering. That was the first time I realized that I had played it well. Rob said, "Well, man, that is how we end." I was so happy to be done like everyone else. That wasn't just happy to be done. We were proud because a collective effort felt like it was worthy of the work. Everyone always gives their whole heart to what they do as an artist. But when you are deprived of the opportunities to communicate your music because of COVID and that is your chosen passion, your chosen vocation, what you've spent your life doing, that gratitude for the experience of performing was so powerful. We really celebrated. We were happy. But this is the thing. That was an amazing experience, and surely it helped. But I didn't really snap out of it. Even though I wanted to leave my heart behind and genuinely feel happy, smile from inside when I saw people instead of pretending. As hard as I tried that real heaviness that darkness returned. A couple weeks later, I finally hit bottom. It was in the middle of the night. I actually wasn't making any noise. I wasn't tossing and turning. But my husband spoke out loud. And he said, "Nicole, are you okay?" And I said, "No, I am not okay. I'm so not okay." I have spent so many nights of my adult life sad and alone. I am so blessed that right now, I'm married to the most amazing man. He just held me in his arms, and I just cried. As I cried in his arms, I realized something. I thought, "You have all these tools at your disposal and you're not really using them. You could be praying more, you could be reading your scriptures more, you could ask your husband for a blessing." And as all these thoughts quickly went through my mind, I blurted out, "Bryce, would you give me a blessing?" And he said, "I would love to, Nicole. I was hoping you would ask me." He just jumped right up. It was like 3:34 in the morning. And I was like, "Oh, you don't have to now. You can go to sleep. He's like, "Let me help you." So there in our PJs, in the middle of the night, a husband and wife got to connect in a really beautiful way. Then one day, I thought to myself that I should talk to my bishop about this. I made an appointment with him and I went into his office. I told him this whole awful ordeal and it was the first time I had said it out loud. All of it. I think for many of us, when we bring things to our bishop, we're embarrassed. We don't want to bring these burdens to their life. I definitely felt that way. He just listened carefully and after I had finished, he explained that it was a bishop's job not to take a burden and keep it. But it was a bishops job to take a burden and to give it to the Savior. And ultimately, my job was to take this burden and to give it to the Savior myself. But in the meantime, he could give this much away for me. We talked about forgiveness. We talked about what it is and what it isn't. And it's interesting growing in the lessons of forgiveness because they're very simple. I think we all know them. It's so like music, you can know something is supposed to be a certain way as a cellist just because you know, it doesn't mean you can play it that way. It really must be practiced. So I think it's the same with forgiveness. With forgiveness, we know it's not saying that something's okay. It's not saying something was supposed to happen or should have happened. We can completely reject the event. It's even appropiate to completely set up a boundary with that person. What forgiveness really is, is choosing to leave the hurt, choosing to leave that place of negativity, choosing to see opportunity in this difficulty. At the end of our meeting, I asked my bishop for a blessing. It wasn't till then, when he stood behind me and placed his hands on my head, that I somehow put everything together that final few seconds of the cello passage and "Gethsemane." The ones that I struggled with in that recording, that few seconds that made me ask to do that piece over again. That difficulty was intentional. It was but a shadow of what the Atonement was for the Savior. The Atonement for the Savior is not something I can understand. But I can understand how hard it is to do that. The bleeding, the nails splitting, I was meant to play that at the end of my limits in pain and feeling totally alone. There's a painting I love by the artist James Christensen. It shows a woman with her hand outstretched with this little tiny coin in her hand. The widow's mite represents this sweet old woman who has almost nothing to give. But the little that she has to give, she presents to the Savior. In my mind's eye, as I was receiving this blessing from the bishop, I realized that I was that woman and now it was time to give up and submit. Just surrender not just my own widow's mite that I had to give, but the hurt that was locked inside of me. I saw the Savior reaching out to me, and he was smiling. In that moment, I understood that he had already paid the price. That when I would give Him this burden, it wouldn't make Him hurt. That part was over. The path that lay ahead was one of light of love, and joy. When we leave our pain and our hurt to the Savior behind, a new path opens before us a path of love, a path of service, a path of bringing light to other people's lives. And being the light that we didn't get to have. We get to be that light for someone else. The blessing ended. I actually didn't tell my bishop what had just transpired in my mind. We parted with friendly, warm words. Then I left the church building out into this cold, sunny winter day. I could feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, on my hair, even my mind. I knew it would be different for me now because I was walking in the light. The light and love that really comes from our Savior–here's nothing quite like it. I took a deep breath and almost felt like I was taking the first deep breath of my life. I smiled a smile that came from the inside, all the way from my heart. And I put one foot in front of the other and walked into the light. KaRyn 28:00 That was Nicole, the principal cellist in the film recording of the oratorio the "Lamb of God." I'm going to tell you so much more about this film because, as you could tell from that little bit that you heard in the story, it is a powerful testimony of the life of our Savior. But before we can even get to that, we have to talk about the light. Couldn't you feel it in Nicole's story? I love that shift, that symbol of reaching from the bottom of the string to the top in the midst of her suffering so that she could represent the Savior well with the voice of her cello. That moment when she felt the heavenly hands on her head, only to be asked to enter the pain one more time and this time to be left alone in her suffering, but with a supernatural ability to transform that pain and isolation into beautiful music. And finally, the realization with her Bishop's support that all of those moments were an echo, however faint, of the very experience of our Lord and Savior when he drank the bitter cup, and as it tells us in Alma, chapter 7, verse 13 when he took upon Him the sins of His people, that He might blot out their transgressions according to the power of His deliverance. All of these symbols, layered upon symbols of representation were exactly what Nicole needed to understand a simple truth. The truth that when we offer our sorrow and our pain and our infirmities to the Lord, especially the ones we don't know how to handle, the ones that cloud our heads and leave us sleepless with worry, we can trust that He can handle it, that He alone has already handled it. We can trust that He knows the unique shape and heft of our burdens intimately, because He's already held them as He paid the price of our possible transformation. We accept the gift that he gave us in Gethsemane when we lift our hands up in a full surrender of the things that we cling to, just as Nicole did. In that moment, the real work of His Atonement can begin in each of us. The real work of changing us from the natural man or the natural woman into a true disciple, a child of light. And now I'm really excited to tell you that we have the incredible opportunity, for the first time ever to experience this oratorio, "The Lamb of God" this stunning work of sacred music in theaters–as they reopen safely in some areas. And I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon–oh, I cry every time I say this, I cannot think of a better way to spend an afternoon or an evening as we ride out the tail end of this pandemic, and celebrate the coming of Easter. We'll have links in our show notes so that you can find it if it's near you. And I know that theatres aren't an option for everyone, especially our friends who are listening across oceans. So we'll have other links to some of the music, including that overwhelming piece "Gethsemane" in our show notes at LDSLiving.com/Thisisthegospel. I honestly can't wait to hear how this music transforms your worship this year. I know that for me, it's been an important new expression of my faith ever since I discovered it and I am so happy to be able to share it with you. I hope it brings light, more light, into your life. That's it for this episode of this is the gospel thank you to our storyteller Nicole for sharing her story and her gifts with us. I played the cello for a hot five minutes in that same ninth grade where Miss Terse was, and it didn't take me long to realize that I wasn't very good at it. So I really and truly appreciate all of Nicole's talents and the years and years she has spent honing that gift to testify of her love of Christ. You can read more about Nicole and the "Lamb of God" oratorio in our show notes at LDS living.com/Thisisthegospel. You can also find us on Facebook or Instagram @thisisthegospel_podcast. All of the stories in this episode are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. And we find a lot of our stories through the pitch line. We'll be gathering stories and ideas for our next season soon. So get ready, get on there, share your stories. The best pitches will be short and sweet. And they'll have a clear sense of the focus. You'll have three minutes to pitch your story when you call 515-519-6179. And if you're still listening this far into the outro of the podcast, you are a true friend. I tried to make them interesting, but I don't always succeed, so it is no small feat that you got this far. And if you've made it this far, maybe you wouldn't mind taking it one step further and leaving us a review. We'd love to hear how this podcast is adding to your practice of the gospel. You can find us on social media @thisisthegospel_podcast or leave us a review on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen on. And from one friend to another, thank you for spending time with us. We truly are grateful for you. This episode was produced by me KaRyn Lay with special help from Arthur Van Wagenen. It was edited by Kelly Campbell and scored mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios. Our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDSLiving.com/podcasts. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Safe and Sound
12-year-old Houston and 10-year-old Hadley find themselves stranded offshore after the weather takes a turn for the worse on a paddle boarding excursion. The dropping temperatures and strong currents make their way home feel almost impossible, until the discovery of the family phone gives them a way to communicate with their mom, MeiLani, on shore, becoming a lifeline for them on their journey home. View shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Follow us on instagram and facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast Transcript coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Song of the Heart
Stories in this episode: Steve gets to choose the song at his mission farewell and discovers pirates in the hymnal; Lillie finds herself leading a choir of cloistered nuns in singing her least favorite hymn; The last few lines of a treasured song turn out to be Holly’s only solace as she faces heart wrenching disappointment in her journey to adopt. View shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Follow us on instagram and facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast Transcript: KaRyn 0:03 Welcome to "This Is the Gospel," an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. I am really excited because we have something so fun to introduce our theme today. I was scrolling through my social media feed–as one does–and this comedy bit from Steve Soelberg popped up. And as I was watching it, I was like, "Oh, my gosh, he's read my diary about some of the hymns that we sing on Sundays." So I thought there was no better way to get us talking about music and our gospel practice than to start by having a good laugh together. Here's Steve. Steve 0:40 You know, I do have this theory, though. I think it is good to be embarrassed and do things that make yourself feel awkward and kind of out of place and stupid sometimes. And I think that's healthy. I think it's good to do that. That's why I went on a, I went on a two year mission for my Church. Because it made me feel embarrassed and awkward. I had a lot of doors slammed in my face, and I think that's healthy. One of my favorite parts of it was even before I left. Before I left, they said, "Steve, you get to pick the hymns that the congregation is going to sing before you leave." It was like a little farewell thing. And I thought that's cool. That's a big responsibility and I didn't want to mess it up. So I asked my dad, I was like, "What hymn should we sing?" And my dad goes, "I don't care, just don't sing the pirate hymn." And I was like, "Wait, what? There's a pirate hymn? What are you talking about? We have a pirate hymn?" And I've done some research on the pirate hymn. The pirate hymn–the lyrics are used across many Christian churches. And as far as I know, my Church is the only one that uses this particular tune. The tune is also used by 1950's Disney movie that was about pirates and the ocean. And so I go, "Dad, please explain to me, what is the pirate hymn?" And he goes, "Well, it goes, it goes yeah, da da da da," and I was like, "Okay, that does sound kind of piratey, but keep going." And he goes, "Yeah, da da da da da" And that felt so piratey I was like, "Oohh... and I started the swashbuckle a little bit"–I don't know why my pirates are Irish, but they are. It just feels . . . I don't know why that's how that goes, but I don't know how to do a pirate accent. It's all Irish. Sorry, if you're in Ireland, and you're watching this. I didn't recognize the song yet. Right? "Ya da da da da da," I was like, "I don't recognize it yet." And I was like, "Dad, please sing it." And he's like, "Ugh." He didn't want to, but he did. And he goes, "Well, I'm gonna sing it the right way. With the pirate accent." My dad sings, he goes, "Okay, this is the song. 'Who's on the Lord's say who? Now is the time you show.'" I was like "Oh! That is a pirate hymn." "We ask it fearlessly!" Fearlessly? What is that! Like, running the Jolly Roger up like, "Are you on the Lord's side? Fly the flag then, we ask it fearlessly. Who's on the Lord's side?" And then it doubles down on the pirate theme, it goes yeah, "Ya da da da da da da, ya da da da da da" at that point seaspray is hitting you in the face. My favorite part, "Who's on the large side who," And the whole congregation sings that line, everybody goes "Whoooooo," You have grandma's next year going "Whooo." Is that how we sing that? Then you look up at the top for direction and it goes "Sing pirately." You go, "Oh there we go. That makes sense." Sing it pirately. You go, "Are you on the Lard's side?" "The Lord?" "The LORD?" "The Lord?" "The Lord's side! He's on the starboard side." Of course we sang that when I left. I was like, "Dad, I'm shoving off! We gotta sing the pirate hymn." So excited. KaRyn 4:55 That was Steve Soelberg at Dry Bar Comedy. We love Dry Bar and Steve Soelberg for lots of reasons, but the fact that they specifically offer stand up that doesn't make us bleep anything, that's kind of a big deal. In fact, Steve has a whole special that you can watch on the Dry Bar app that doesn't require any bleeping. So maybe you're a better person than me, but I really resonated with this whole thing. I'm admitting here and now that I have giggled through more than a few hymns in my day, "Scatter sunshine," "Put your shoulder to the wheel," those have always made me feel just a little like we're all "Yo, ho ho ho-ing" through the rest hymn. And I just realized that I miss the rest hymn! I miss it. And if that's not a pandemic miracle, I honestly don't know what is. Music is such a funny thing in our gospel worship. There are a lot of different camps of opinion about our hymns. Maybe sometimes we wish they were a little more lively or a little bit more modern. Or in the case of the pirate hymns, maybe we wish they were a little less lively? A little more reverent? I think the reason we have so many different feelings and opinions about the music in our church is because sacred music is one of the ways that so many of us connect to heaven. It's the workhorse of our spiritual communion. It can be a conduit of praise and revelation, a way to express our gratitude and keep a prayer in our hearts. We use it to spiritually prepare ourselves for participating in holy ordinances. And for me, it's often the tool that God uses to soften my heart so that he can correct me and invite me to come closer. Maybe I forgot to list the way that sacred music wends its way into your gospel practice. But if you think about it, I'm sure something came to your mind. Today we've got two stories about the way our sacred music tutors and blesses us as disciples. Our first story comes from Lillie, whose love for music and languages gave her the unique opportunity to start a choir, quite different from any that she'd been a part of before. Here's Lillie. Lillie 6:50 The year my husband and I got married, I was teaching high school Spanish so I had summers off, and he was still in school so he had time in the summers as well. So we decided to volunteer. I needed more experience with Latin American countries so that I could feel like I was a better teacher. So I decided to–we signed up for this nonprofit to go and do nonprofit work in Ecuador, with a man named Washington Zambrano, he was actually a bishop at the time too, but he was a dentist. We signed up to be there for almost four months. And when we got there, there were a bunch of nurses there that were volunteering with him, actual dentists, dental hygienists, so we basically did whatever he asked us to do. One particular service we were asked to do was go and help a bunch of nuns that lived in a monastery there in the historical district of Ecuador and Quito. Cloistered nuns take vows to never leave the convent. And they vow to just basically study and pray and be close to God. So it's pretty amazing that these women chose these things. Some of the women that we met while we were in there doing their dental work, had actual jobs before they had taken their vows. And so some of them hadn't entered the convent until they were in like their 50's. And others were young, there were a couple of nuns that hadn't taken the vow to be a cloistered nun yet, so those were the nuns that would go out and get food or take some of the prepared food that the nuns made, and give it to the homeless population there in Quito. So when we went to do dental work for the nuns who obviously hadn't had dental work in a long time, we felt really lucky to have been invited. And we kept hearing from the director, "We are so lucky to be here. They don't let people come in." And so we did feel that and we were really expressing how happy we were to be there, and we knew that it was probably the only time we'd be let in there. They were super excited when we came because they didn't see people very often. They were talking our ears off. It was super fun. And so while one nun was getting her teeth cleaned, we'd be chatting with the other nuns and getting to know them. I do remember two nuns, they were actually radio personalities in their previous life. They were hilarious, and I think that they missed the attention. Oh my goodness, they were wonderful. So somehow music came up with the nuns while we were there, and they had missed music in their lives and didn't have anyone to lead a choir. And my husband is a musician and he plays the guitar really well and oftentimes when we would go to do the dental work at the schools or in little villages I would play the violin and he would play the guitar and we'd just play music for them. They said, "Well, we would love a choir, can you teach us music? Can we form a choir? Would you come and do that?" And it was like our dream come true, "Yes!" You know, because I mean, dental work is one thing, but doing music is is exciting and super fun. So yes, we said we'd love to. And so myself, my husband, and so we got it all set up, and I got these folders, I thought they would feel really important having you know, their folders. I wanted them to know that I was taking it seriously. So I gave them their folders, they had a pencil, you know, to mark anything. The real problem was I didn't have music. And the only music I had access to was the church hymns. So I found a hymnal. It was in Spanish, of course. And I chose some songs that I thought were simple. And I was really drawn to, "As Sisters in Zion" And then the other song was, "As I Have Loved You", and "Keep the Commandments." [Nuns singing "Love One Another" in Spanish" So the "Sisters in Zion" song, it was an interesting one, because I'm going to be honest, I haven't always loved that song. I haven't always enjoyed singing it. Maybe because I grew up listening to Relief Society sisters sing it, and maybe, you know, there were older voices in there that weren't always the most lovely to listen to–I don't know, it just wasn't a song that I always loved. But as I read the words in Spanish, the translation, it's called, "We Serve United." And what I think is neat about that is they are, they were cloistered nuns serving together. The first line, the first part of the song, "We serve together because we're sisters." And then it's saying that they hope God blesses us in our work, and we will edify his kingdom on the earth, bringing service in love. It's very simple, and there's nothing that says even Zion in it. And I felt like it translated perfectly for their situation, I thought that they would relate to it, and that it would help them feel strength in their purpose. So when I brought this song in their little folders with their little pencils–which, they were just giddy when we arrived, I still remember their faces. And remember, they're wearing habits, just like on "The Sound of Music," and they were so excited to see us that of course, we were just thrilled. And I remember singing the song with them, they really caught on pretty quickly. And after they sang it, they looked at me and they said, "Wow, did you write this for us?" Like, "No, actually Janice Kapp Perry wrote this, but it does relate," like, they loved it. They just loved it, it almost became their anthem. And what I love about it is it completely changed my perspective on this song. I cannot sing this song. Without thinking about these sisters. I really, I saw them as my sisters. I–when we sang that together, I just felt so much love that Heavenly Father had for them. They let us come several more times during that time we spent in Ecuador, and they weren't really preparing for anything, they didn't have a choir concert, I think it was for their own edification. I think they just really wanted to sing. So I've always loved music, and I feel like music is what helped me build my testimony throughout my younger years and even now, if I have questions, they're often answered while I'm singing hymns. And I feel like this experience solidified that for me, because, as we sang, the Spirit was there. Music invites the Spirit. And it doesn't matter what religion we are, we are all children of God, and singing a song or singing a hymn that speaks words of truth invites the Spirit. And I felt that so strongly and I looked around at these faces of these beautiful nuns singing "As Sisters in Zion," and I could see the love that they had for the same Heavenly Father, and I feel like it really did unite us in a cause for good. And I'll never sing that song again without that feeling. KaRyn 15:34 That was Lillie. We first heard her story on our pitch line and were mesmerized by her description of acquire of cloistered nuns in Ecuador singing "As Sisters in Zion." My favorite spark of gospel from Lillie's story is that when we sing songs that speak truth, the spirits present, regardless of our faith tradition. And that's only amplified when we sing those songs together. All my fellow choir nerds out there know that something really cool happens when we join our shaky, imperfect voices in praise of Jesus. And I think that something is a taste of Zion. The things that make us different or disconnected seem to fall away as we exert the same kind of effort to take individual notes and individual voices, and meld them into one. I think it's a really transcendent experience, and it can change the way that we see one another. Maybe it's the erstwhile fiction writer in me speaking here, but I have this vision that someday anthropologists in the year 3000, will find this recording of a Spanish translation of Janice Kapp Perry's, "As Sisters in Zion" in an abandoned nunnery in Ecuador, and it'll spark a historical mystery for our posterity that will end with them coming to the conclusion that we were a unified and connected people across cultures and continents. I know, it's a little far fetched, but a girl can dream, right? And maybe, just maybe, when we get back from this quarantine, we'll all decide to take another look at joining the ward choir. Just a thought. Our next story about the power of music comes from Holly who needed additional strength to move forward after a devastating setback. Here's Holly. Holly 17:16 My husband and I were married in 1986, it seems like a really long time ago. And in 1991, we did our first adoptions. We had three biological children and in 91, we went to Romania, to adopt and adopted two little girls from orphanages there and decided that we would really want to welcome kids into our home who had been abandoned, neglected, in some way–hard to place, because we also had a biological daughter with disabilities, and so it really opened up a world of possibility for us to add to our family. When we decided to adopt, when we felt inspired to adopt another child, or add another child, we always took it to the Lord. We always prayed, we always got confirmation, we both had to be on the same page. I think my husband would tell you that, if we had adopted every child that I had felt would be a good fit, we'd probably have 50. And we don't have quite that many, but we always got confirmation. And that was one of the things that I relied on, right? Is feeling confirmation from the spirit that these were the children that I needed to add to my home. So in 2007–actually beginning in 2006–we started to pursue an adoption from a country in Africa, it's no longer open, but at the time it was open, and we had that same familiar feeling, it's time to go add to our family. We did all of the paperwork, and I traveled to that country prepared to adopt. My husband was going to stay home, I was going to go and I took one of my teenage daughters with me to do this adoption. And we actually spent months there. We lived there to complete these adoptions, and we found three little girls. One was in an orphanage, and two were actually abandoned in the hospital, and they were legally adopted to us. We got birth certificates, and passports in the Richardson name, the courts released them into my custody and I started taking care of them, while we were still undergoing the rest of the legal process and the court process. Absolutely bonded, I fall in love with my kids very quickly. The last step is to go to the American Embassy and get visas to bring them home to the United States. We went to the American Embassy and they . . . they said "No." They turned us down. First they said "Well, we need to go verify where these girls actually came from." So we tracked down all the information we had, we tracked down the police report where the kids were abandoned, I mean, we tracked all of this information down, provided all of the paperwork, and then there was another reason. And we just couldn't figure it out. And it started to get concerning. One day with my teenage daughter who had come with me, we got a knock on our apartment door where we were staying and it was Child Services from this country, and they were coming to take the kids back into their custody. Two of them were newborns, one of them was only three months old, so they were really close in age. And I had been their full time caregiver around the clock for a couple of months at least. And here, these people show up and they're like, "We're here to take your babies." And I'm like, "What? What . . . like, How can that be possible?" And they just said, "Well, we know you're having trouble with the American Embassy, so you go work it out in America, and we're going to take care of the girls here," and told us to go home and work on the problem at home. And we were just like, I was just stunned. I . . .I couldn't believe it, right. It was really traumatic and very sad. And here I had been, trying to be faithful, following the spirit, and it had not worked out and I was in shock and grief. I did not feel the Comforter, I did not feel supported, I actually felt betrayed. I felt betrayed by God, that He had led me so far, and then taken away the ability for me to get these little girls home. I had this realization that I was at a moment of choosing. And I did debate a little bit on on whether this was going to be the last straw for me, because we'd gone through some really rough stuff. I could have said, "Okay, I'm done. I'm out." I had, at the time, this was 2007, so I had a laptop, it used to have a CD player and I had CD's with me from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And as I played, "How Firm a Foundation," I was stuck on the last verse. And the last verse says, "The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I cannot, desert to His foes. That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I'll never, no never, I'll never no never, I'll never, no never, no never forsake." And I literally put that on repeat. This music helped calm my soul, it was so soothing, and I just sat there and listened and cried and listened and cried and cried. And made that commitment that I'll never forsake. I'll never forsake, no matter how hard it is, I'll never forsake and that was, that was really my moment of choosing. That music really helped me choose faith. I heard later, one of the people that was helping us said that they had just participated in a meeting where the woman who had come and taken my children from me, stood up and said that Mormons were not Christian, and that she had saved these children from a fate worse than death by preventing them from coming to an LDS home. I don't know exactly what her difficulties were with my religion, but it was very clear that that was the reason that they decided that they were going to prevent these kids from coming home. Now what happened is, I went home and I spent, we spent many, many hours with attorneys and working the legal process, and the reality was–it never happened. And they didn't come home. I entered a period of really dark depression, because I couldn't bring them home. And it just felt so awful that I knew where they were, and I couldn't do anything about it. People would ask me, "How are you doing?" and I would literally burst into tears. I look at pictures from that year, I never did my hair, I never wore makeup, I put on sweats, like I could barely get myself out of bed. But because I chose to stay in the gospel and to do the things that I needed to do to feel the light again, because I didn't for a long time. One morning, in December of that year, I woke up and I could tell that things were a little bit better. That was the day that I started to really feel like I was healing from that. And now it's been, what, 14 years. And every time I still hear that song, I remember that commitment that I made, both to myself, but to God as well to say, I'm going to stay, and I choose faith. And I think sometimes. . . II think sometimes people think that, that people stay in the church out of maybe naivete, but, but I choose to stay in spite of the difficulties, and I choose to stay in spite of not knowing. And I chose to stay even when things were really hard and I felt like they were really not fair–and they weren't fair. But I knew that I would have dark times but I also knew that I could rely on Heavenly Father and my Savior, I knew that they would be there, and I knew that I would get through it. And I did it. And I think part of it for me is knowing that if I hold on during those dark times that the light will come again. I've gone to the temple where I felt not one thing. I've prayed where I felt like not one thing, nobody was listening, nobody cared. But I just did the things I knew I was supposed to do, and the light came back. KaRyn 25:37 That was Holly. Holly and her husband, are parents to 25 children who've come into their family in various ways. And if that doesn't tell you what you need to know about her willingness to commit when the Spirit directs her, I don't know what does. I appreciate what she learned about the beauty of our hymns as spiritual teachers, that when we listen to and surround ourselves with sacred music as part of our discipleship, we're creating a little well of inspiration that we can dip from when we need to learn something or decide something in a moment, even if that moment is characterized by pain or grief. Those songs will float upward and act as a catalyst for the Spirit. But even better, after we've had that experience with the Spirit, the moment is gonna fade, but that song will still remain. And just like Holly said, every time we hear it, it becomes this tangible touchstone of a time when we were inextricably connected to heaven, a solid reminder to recommit or to stay strong or to have additional peace. I suspect that most of us could point to a pivotal moment when a song, a sacred song, offered an answer or comfort to us. I know I can. For me, it always seems to come from the song, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go." In fact, that song has become kind of an inside joke between me and the Lord. Every single time I don't want to do something scary, or I'm on the fence about following inspiration or revelation. Invariably, I go to church, I sit in the back pew, I argue with the Spirit about it, and then we sing this song for the closing hymn. This conversation with music and the Spirit happened when I was trying to decide whether to serve a full time mission. And it happened when I was feeling nervous about my decision to leave my job and move to South Korea. And it happened again when I didn't get into a graduate program that I desperately, desperately, wanted to be a part of. And when the answer was to stay right where I was for the time being. It's this line that gets me every time, "But if by a still small voice He calls to paths that I do not know, I'll answer Dear Lord with my hand in thine, I'll go where you want me to go." I admit that it has some of the lilting of a pirate hymn, but it's my pirate hymn. And every time I hear it, I am reminded that sacred music is a powerful and personal tool of communion between me and my Heavenly Parents. There's one other piece of this that I think is worth mentioning. In a Church Educational System talk the President Nelson gave in 2008 he spoke about the power and the protection of worthy music. And at the outset, it might seem like our stories today were all about the power of music, the power to unify, to transcend differences, to anchor us to the gospel and soothe our troubled hearts. But when I look a little bit deeper, I can see what President Nelson was talking about when he said, quote, "Music is not only a source of power, but also of protection," end quote. Surrounding ourselves with sacred music–and that could be lots of different kinds of music, I'm not just talking about hymns, but surrounding ourselves with sacred music offers a shield against the darts of the adversary. It covers our efforts to share eternal truths when disagreements, misunderstandings, or cultural differences could easily drive a wedge between an ad hoc choir director and her newly formed corral of nuns. Sacred music can hold us still, while our hearts break in a hotel room far from home. And it can fill us with a hope that is strong enough to cast out the doubt and the dissonance that threatens to send us far from God's goodness. In my own life, I've seen sacred music fill the space between the angry words in my head and my sometimes too sharp tongue. It stopped me from saying things that I couldn't take back. And I have experienced the presence of angels after a light filled song open the gates of heaven against a darkness that felt like it could own me. Worthy music is a power and a protection. Is it any wonder then, that President Nelson warned us in that talk to use that power and care for that protection intentionally, when he said, quote, "Do not degrade yourself with the numbing shabbiness and irreverence of music that is not worthy of you. It is not harmless. It can weaken your defenses. Fill your minds with worthy sights and sounds. Cultivate your precious gift of the Holy Ghost. Protect it. Carefully listen for its quiet communication, you will be spiritually stronger if you do," end quote. And to that, my friends, all I can say is amen. And in the spirit of our theme today, I want to leave you with one more thing, a hymn that my Pappy used to sing with all of his heart and soul in our sacrament meeting, arranged and sung by some of my favorite musicians. I hope it gives you an added measure of power and protection today. This is "II Stand All Amazed" by the Bonner family. Bonner Family 31:33 "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me." "Wonderful to me. I marvel that he would descend from His throne divine. To rescure a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to die for me. Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me." "I stand all amazed at the love, I stand all amazed. Wonderful to me. Wonderful to me." KaRyn 34:33 That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel." Thank you to our storytellers, Lillie and Holly, and comedian Steve Solberg and Dry Bar Comedy for sharing their stories and their love for all worthy music, including the piratey ones. We'll have a link to Steve's full length comedy special–that again requires no bleeping–and more info about each of our storytellers in our show notes. We'll also have a way for you to find more of that gorgeous music from the Bonners. Seriously, they're bringing a whole new energy to our hymns, and I am here for it. You can find our show notes at LDSliving.com/thisisthegospel. One of my favorite things besides the Bonner family and cake is hearing from you. We love to hear how this podcast is adding to your practice of the gospel. You can find us on social media at @thisisthegospel_podcast, or leave us a review on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen on. Reviews are super helpful in pushing us up in the recommended section of a lot of platforms, so more people can find us easily. All of the stories in this episode are true and accurate as affirmed by our storytellers. We find so many stories through the pitch line and we'll be gathering those stories and ideas for season four soon so get ready to share them. You'll have three minutes to pitch your story when you call 515-519-6179. This episode was produced by me KaRyn Lay, with story production and editing from Erika Free. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDSliving.com/podcasts. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: Brett’s charge to defend a man who has committed heinous crimes is almost too much to bear until a desperate plea to God in the middle of the courtroom restores his hope; As a new judge, Carey faces a crisis of conscience when a temple recommend interview offers new insight; When Jennifer is unfairly judged by her colleagues, the consequences send her into a bitter tailspin that only a vivid dream from heaven can stop. View shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Follow us on instagram and facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Gift of Curiosity
In this episode, we explore one of the ways that we can become better storytellers and better listeners through cultivating our holy curiosity. In honor of Black History Month, we revisit the faithful story of Isaac Thomas, a black Latter-day Saint who converted to the gospel in the 1970's despite the fact that he would be unable to hold the priesthood or participate fully in the restored gospel he loved. We'll also hear from Tamu Smith and Zandra Vranes, (aka the Sistas in Zion) who give us their tips for better ways to interact with one another across cultural divides. SHOW NOTES: If you're looking for ways to get curious about the lived experiences of our brothers and sisters of color in the gospel, you can find a list of resources (as promised!) at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel TRANSCRIPT coming soon Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Enduring and Eternal Love
Ashley’s life was in full bloom as a talented teenager when a tragic car accident leaves her grieving the loss of her father and her ability to play the piano. Her mother, Michelle, forges ahead to keep her family afloat without her husband when she receives an insistent prompting from the Spirit that will only make sense in the months to follow. In the end, that prompting is the key to Ashley’s healing and a reminder to both that love and family endure beyond the doors of death. Get pictures, bios and more in our shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel You can also follow us on Instagram or facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast Transcript coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Eyes to See
While sorting her late daughter’s belongings, Becky makes a surprising discovery that eventually takes her across the world to India, where her eyes are opened to a whole new world. Consumed with the desire to “do something” but unsure of what to do, the answer to Becky’s prayer is startlingly simple, and begins an effort that will eventually impact thousands, but most importantly, lead Becky to personal healing through Jesus Christ. Get pictures, bios and more in our shownotes at LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel You can also follow us on Instagram or facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast TRANSCRIPT coming soon.... Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: Wendy's childhood is fraught with bullies and self-doubt until she asks God to teach her what her parents knew all along; A run-in with a trampoline right before the family reunion sends Cassidy into hiding, but she can't hide from the Spirit; When artist Melissa can't find herself in museum paintings of Heaven, she decides to take matters into her own hands. For shownotes and more, go to ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. Follow us on facebook and instagram @thisisthegospel_podcast TRANSCRIPT Coming soon Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Every Living Thing
Stories in this episode: A quest to solve the mystery of bees flying through cracks in their walls lead Kristen and Matt to discover important truths about God's laws of nature; Spencer’s childhood memories of catching bugs under yellow street lamps teaches him what it takes to recognize God’s hands in our lives. To view shownotes for this episode, go to ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel TRANSCRIPT Coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: Anna’s teen years are spent in anger and frustration at God for not saving her mom until an unwelcome opportunity sparks a new perspective; Juan is stopped in his tracks on his way into a fast-food restaurant when a sign from heaven sheds new light on an unanswered prayer that haunted him for years. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Getting It Right
Stories in this episode: A new Christmas tradition challenges Matt to put into writing all the things he has trouble saying; Gracie, Cescily, Paul, & Sheradon call the pitchline with stories of what "getting it right" looks like for them; Leslie's attempt to skip the holidays is thwarted by a wise dad with three poinsettias and a plan. Find the Pearl S. Buck story "Christmas Day in the Morning" here. For complete show notes for this episode, please visit ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel We'll be back with weekly episodes starting JANUARY 11th. Merry Christmas! TRANSCRIPT Coming Soon Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
The Creative Spark
Stories in this episode: Adam is all set for a safe career in engineering when a chance encounter leads him to embrace his true creative calling as an animator; When faced with upheaval and contention in her community, peace-loving Bryn finds solace in repentance and a prompting to fold 1,000 origami cranes. To see our show notes for this episode (transcript, pictures, links, & more!) go to ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel TRANSCRIPT Coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Be Not Troubled
Stories in this episode: When her dreams for a picture perfect senior year of High School get disrupted by Covid, Meg finds comfort and clarity at an imperfect football game; Sue learns an important lesson about what it means to truly trust God as she faces a mountain of boxes and an even bigger mountain of troubles. To see our show notes for this episode (transcript, pictures, links, & more!) go to ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel TRANSCRIPT Coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
BONUS: Follow up with Stacy Taniguchi & Emily Farmer
KaRyn chats with Emily from episode 34 about her life after Mac’s passing, and how she kept their promise to bring joy to others through music, even after a brain surgery; Sarah learns from legendary Stacy Taniguchi from episode 37 about his life philosophy of thriving, and where it all began for him. Show Notes: To see pictures and links for this episode, go to Living.com/thisisthegospel Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: A journey to learn more about his grandparents leads Jeff across the world to old chapels, monasteries and hidden towns only to find dead ends––until a chance encounter on a remote mountain side; KC’s inherited pocket watch had long since become a plaything for his kids, until a close inspection of the watch yields an inscription that broadens his definition of “family.” Show Notes: To see pictures and links for this episode, go to LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Transcript: Coming soon! Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Feed My Sheep
When the demand for potatoes plummeted during the outbreak of COVID-19, Ryan did something unthinkable. He dumped 2 million pounds of potatoes on his farm and, through a Facebook post, invited anyone to take what they needed. Little did he know that this post would reach a single mother in Kenya and give him the opportunity to act on the Savior's invitation to feed His sheep both physically and spiritually. Show Notes: To see pictures and links for this episode, go to LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Transcript: KaRyn 0:03 Welcome to This Is the Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. At the time of this recording, I am currently in quarantine waiting for the results of my COVID-19 test. I'm okay. It's okay. But it is amazing how quickly a little under-the-weather feeling sends us into a downward spiral of brain frenzy. Where have I been? Who was I with? Did I take off my mask somewhere forget to wash my hands that one time? Who did I give this to? It's enough to drive you crazy, whether it's COVID or not. But it also has me thinking about this week's theme and story because in the midst of all the uncertainty and exhaustion I have been fed, literally and figuratively, a simple warm bowl of soup from Chick-fil-A on the porch from a neighbor, a just-checking-in text from a friend, an offer to take things off my work plate, bless you. And a well-timed scripture in my "Come, Follow Me" study that's bringing me a lot of hope. All of these things have helped me to know that I am not alone, even when I'm feeling really vulnerable. And they bring me a sense of safety of peace, and, like I said, hope. I think that regardless how we interpret or act on the Savior's charge after His resurrection to feed His sheep, the end result for those that we care about will be the same—a sense of safety, of peace, of fullness, and of hope. And in today's episode, we have one story from Ryan, a farmer in Idaho who thought he was being prompted to do what farmers do: feed people from the land. But it wasn't the potatoes that ultimately made the biggest difference. Here's Ryan. Ryan 1:47 We farm about 20,000 acres. We do a lot of potatoes and sugar beets, and a lot of other crops as well as cattle. We grow potatoes for both the process industry, which is companies that make french fries, that's our biggest customers is the french fry. And then we also do fresh pack where we're part-owners in the company that packs potatoes into boxes and bags that go to grocery stores and restaurants. This last year, was in 2019, was a great year. We were super excited at the end of the harvest, we had a great crop, things are looking very good and the economy was doing well. People were out in about, you know, eating and restaurants. And there actually was a really good demand for potatoes, specifically. And there also was a little bit of a tight supply of potatoes and so potato prices looked like they were going to be at record levels. So we were really excited about how things look for us. And so a lot of optimism going into the first part of 2020. And then, you know, sometime around, you know, the end of January, in the very first part of February, I started to hear a little bit about this virus. I remember, right at the very beginning having kind of a sick feeling in my gut, you know, this could be something very serious, both for the world but also for our company. And then we started talking about how are we going to control this, we're going to do shut downs and things like that, then the reality really start setting. So the first thing that we saw here was the food service side, the restaurants really took a beating as they began to close down. And so we saw our customers' demand go from very strong to almost a complete stop. I felt a sense of almost panic at the time. I felt like that, you know, we could be in financial jeopardy, that potentially it could take farms out of business. At this time, we were praying as a family that we would be able to sustain through this difficult time, asking for Heavenly Father's help to get through it. I also asked many times, "What is it we need to learn from this experience? What are the correct decisions might be that we continue to support our family here for generations to come?" So I guess April time is planting time, but it's also the time of the year where we have still have potatoes in storage from the previous year's harvest. Usually, we can either sell those to other farmers or we can take those to the dehydrated market make dehydrated flakes. And so I made the usual phone calls to the dehydrating companies. They just laughed at me, they're like, "We're not buying anything right now. We don't see anything opening up." You know, farmers were cutting back because of their contracts and what they were going to plant so there was no one to sell the potatoes to. They were beautiful potatoes. You know, I really struggled with what to do with them. And the other only option that we had was to be to feed them to cattle as we have some of our own cattle. So that's kind of what our initial intent would be to dump them on the ground, we could feed them later to our own cows. But as a as a dumped them there looked at how pretty the potatoes were. And when we were all said and done, we had about 2 million pounds of potatoes. And if you figure about, you know, a half pound is a potato, there's probably 4 million potatoes there. I'm like surely there's got to be something that would be a better use than cattle feed. So I pondered that over for a part of a day. And I had the distinct impression to give some of them away. I knew that people were, some people lost their jobs, maybe struggling financially. So I just made a post on Facebook or something along the lines of, "Due to COVID, we're gonna have to dump some potatoes, you're welcome to come get some if you'd like some." Really, I had no idea that people will take that as seriously as they did. I thought maybe a few friends, neighbors would come gather a few up and the rest would go to cattle feed. But I was wrong majorly wrong. The first day, people started to show up, you know, friends, neighbors, just car after car after car. And I would say hundreds of people the first day came. We were just blown away. We couldn't believe the amount of traffic and it was like a almost like a highway. So then, the next day, I thought things would be over and it would quiet down. But by early morning, this traffic started up again. And same thing, steady stream of traffic going by. And so during this whole time, the Facebook posts started to spread. And I started to get a lot of comments, but a lot of shares, ended up with over 10,000 shares when it was all said and done. So we started to see, after the first few days, people come from far away into you know, Utah, up into the Boise Valley, both a three, four hour drives. Then even brass even farther and I saw people come in from down into Nevada and Elko and Wells, you're starting to talk no more like a five or six hour drive. And then as far as way as Las Vegas and Moscow, Idaho, straight, you know, 10-hour drives. One lady called from Kansas, which is like an 18 hour drive. And after a day or two what really started to stand out to me was the reason why people were coming to get the potatoes. The gas money was way more than what the potatoes were worth in, all circumstances. But I started to get a glimpse of the people just wanted to come and do something good for somebody else. It was the beginning of the lockdown, they been locked in their home. And I think it was just a great way for people to have an opportunity to get a glimpse of something they could do, something kind for other people. And that's really what amazed me. I would say 95% of everyone that came came in for somebody else. You know, I made a connection with a man out of New York City and we shipped a full semi load of boxed potatoes to the Bronx. And they were just trying to do something good for their community. And that was really the story of what I saw. As people reached out, many people wanted to help. We'd get anonymous donations from as far away as New York and Canada. And they felt like, you know, with the potatoes that we were giving away, that was, you know, going to bankrupt us. That really wasn't the case. Initially, I refused that. I didn't want to take money for this. This was something we kind of talked about as a company that we would continue to just give them away. Somebody tried to slip envelopes here and there, but we'd give them back. But I really couldn't stop the money that was coming in from distant lands and anonymous money. So as the Facebook posts expanded, I started to hear from some news agencies. I did interviews with CNN, Fox News, ABC, NBC, I do a little podcast with NPR. And then some of those stories ended up into the national or the world media. And so I started to have messages and comments and emails from people from all over the world. And one of the people that I noticed on one of the Facebook comments, was a lady named Susan. She's from Kenya, and, for whatever reason, I'll just remember, seeing her picture and this impression that I wanted to just see what she had to say. And so I clicked on her comment. And the comment was something along the lines, "I wish you could send some of those potatoes to me." But just, you know, shipping potatoes to Kenya or even other parts of countries, you know, it's cost prohibitive so it's not going to work. So I responded, "Well, I wish I could. What is it like in Kenya with COVID?" She just commented that she lived in Nairobi, Kenya, and it's a city of about 4 million people. We're talking dirt floor, tin shack, cardboard-type homes, and she just explained how they were living hand to mouth as it was, you know, trying to feed her family. She's a single mother of three children. And then with the lockdowns that the government had put on, imposed upon them in Kenya, you know, they really didn't have an opportunity to go into work and, you know, bring food home to the family. And so as I thought about a little bit, I come back and asked her a little bit later, you know, if there's nothing I can do to help? She really says, "Well, I don't think there's much you can do to help. But we just need something to eat." So I think I thought about that a little bit and in my pickup, I've had $100 bill that had been floating around in the center console of my truck for almost a year. And I'm like, "I'll just, I'm just gonna send her this money." And it's really not that easy to send money to Kenya. We finally figured out how to do it. And so I ended up sending the money over there to Susan. And a couple days later, I think it was over the weekend, so I think on Monday, she sent me a little picture of her family as they come back from the store with their groceries. And she brought back, you know, a big bag of flour, rice, and cooking oil and sugar, and just the staples, beans. And right on the very top a little there's one little teeny pack of cookies. It just struck me funny as we eat here in our country and go shopping, you know, you bring home for frozen pizzas and Snickers bars and ice cream and just things that didn't even cross her mind. And she wrote me back and she sent a picture and just saying, "Thank you. This will fit our family for months." So I continue to have money come into the company to help us. I've been thinking about you know, "Is there something I could do with this money, or something I could leverage to make this something bigger?" And in one of my conversations with Susan, she said, "My dream and prayer is to educate my children and to see them go to the university. I don't want them to raise their children in the ghetto like I have raised them." I don't know, there's something that really struck a chord with me on that. And so almost immediately, I had an idea, I'm like, "That's what I want to do. I'm gonna, I'm gonna help her children receive an education." And so I had the thought, "Okay, I'm gonna take the money that have already been given and put that toward the cause. I'm going to do a GoFundMe and I'll send this out to everyone that was wrote these nice comments and things on my Facebook page, I linked that to it. And so I pondered over it on a Sunday, all day. I started to do a little video to put that out and asking people for help. And I thought people responded really well to it. So we were able to raise more than enough, I think, to put most her kids through college. I think some people felt like maybe it could be a scam, or something like that. But I really felt in my heart, I knew that it was not. I had big, long conversations with Susan. I knew her heart. And so I was so excited about it. I'd share it with the family every day, we sit around the dinner table discussing where we're at what to do, and we've decided that even if we come up short, we as a family, we're gonna pitch in and make the dream happen for them one way or the other. And about then I kind of lost contact with Susan. At first, I was, I was a little bit wary. I'm like, okay, you know, what if something happened to her or. . . But then I saw a post, and I think she had maybe even posted it herself, on Facebook and of like bulldozers bulldozing buildings and stuff down. And so I clicked on it and it was following that a little bit. And so I looked it up on the news and there was an article on it in the Kenyan news about how the goverment was working on a big waterworks project and this sewer plan, so they decided to knock those homes down. And, and so, as that was all demolished and twisted up in the metal and some of the belongings, and that, you know, I know that it was probably very devastating for, for her. And so the excitement of raising, you know, the money to help her children was kind of overcome with, we just needed to survive the next while. I was very nervous about how they were. Prior to and during this process, I made another friend in Kenya in Nairobi, his name was Titus. And he's a member of the Church there was in the bishopric in one of the wards and he seen an article on LDS Living that had been done about the story. So he reached out to me and just asked if there's something you could do to help. So I asked him if he'd go see if you could find Susan. And I had her phone number, but he was able to track her down and to check in on her. She found some shelter in a church, somewhere in the city for a few nights. And she had family nearby. And so her one sister let her stay with her for a shorter period of time while she got her feet back under underneath her. And so eventually, I heard back from her, and she, you know, she told me what had happened. They were safe. They were sound, they just needed somewhere to stay. She's was very discouraged, and in quite a bit of despair, I would say. So it was about this time that we started to have a little bits of discussions on occasion about God, talking about faith. And I asked her if she'd be willing to meet with the missionaries from my church, and that they would have a message that they would share with her that potentially changed her life, for the better – forever. She willingly accepted. And said she'd be happy to meet with the missionaries. So how do you get in contact with missionaries in a foreign country? Our friend, good friend, Titus, connected us with the missionaries and was able to get her phone number, make the connection, and so the missionaries like right away, they started to teach the first discussion. She'd come over to the church where they met and did a discussion and gave her a little tour of the church, and . . . But as I've seen before, as I served on my own mission is, you know, sometimes as people start to learn and hear about the gospel, life can get really complicated for them pretty fast. And so, again, I couldn't make contact with Susan for quite some time. Finally, Titus, I think was able to track her down, and she's been robbed, and had been her – had her phone stolen. And I just thought, Well, yeah, this is – she's starting to learn about something that really can have life changing meaning in her life as she prepares to learn about the Savior and the Gospel. And then she's robbed. Like, what else could possibly go wrong? Again, an impression come to me that, you know, sometimes during our darkest hour comes – next comes the light. I really felt like that was going to be the case that Susan would soon see light in her life. And I didn't know exactly what that meant. I really wasn't that optimistic that things would go far with the missionaries, but I knew that there was going to be something good that happened in her life. In all our discussions with Susan, she never asked me for a single thing, and one day, she sent me a little message. And she said, "I feel like that I'm becoming a burden to you." She wanted to become more self–reliant and to be able to take care of her family. She expressed her concern in doing that. She didn't want to be a burden to others. She said that her doctor had told her that she needed to quit doing what she has done for an occupation to help feed her family, and that was doing construction. I have pictures of her packing these huge concrete blocks on her shoulders into the construction sites. And she talked about how how little money that paid how hard it was, and it had done damage to her back. Many times the women over there were taken advantage of and sometimes not even paid for their work. She said that she has an opportunity, that something she knows, to start her own business. And so she asked me the first time for something, and that was "Would you loan me some money so that I'll be able to start this business?" It was just a few hundred dollars, a very small amount. So I told her, "Yeah, I'd be, I'd be thrilled to help you start your own business." And so it had come to me the thought about the self–reliance course on how to start your business. And so I reached out to Titus and asked him if he could come up with the manuals and the books. And he did. And he took them to Susan and gave it to her. And so a week or so later, I asked her, "How's the business start–up going?" And she says, "No, I'm not, I'm not doing any of that, I want to finish reading the self-reliance manual first." And so she was like, really into it, you know, reading the self-reliance program and how it can help her, and then Susan was able to start her own fruit stand business. So it's about this time that she was pretty quiet about things. And Titus actually told me first that she made a decision to be baptized, her and her daughter. But then the next day, in the conversation with Susan, she told me that she decided to be baptized and become a member of the Church. I was thrilled. I expressed to her that I wish that I could be there for it, because I really wanted it to be. I wish I could just jump on an airplane, fly out there, but I knew that wouldn't be realistic. I asked, "Could you make sure you send me pictures?" And so I asked her that, and she – and they did, they sent lots of pictures. And Titus was there too and he sent me pictures. It was a really special day, just to see the smiles on her face and see them all dressed in white. It was kind of surreal, but it was something that really touched me and our family was in celebration for the whole day. It was just a great experience to see. And I knew this could be a great beginning, that could really change her life and the lives of her children. She's expressed to me many times about her testimony and God and His desire to help her and that she's recognized that things will come in their own due time, in God's own time. We've since taken some of the education fund, and we've got her kids enrolled in private school. Public school in downtown Nairobi, you know it's a very difficult circumstance – 150 kids shoved into one classroom, there's not a lot of learning going and so we felt like if they're gonna have a chance at the university, that private school is going to be the best for them. And it's not a lot of money, a small amount. She sent me a pictures of her boys on the first day of school all dressed in their little uniforms and their books. It was the cutest thing you've ever seen. Her daughter, Serena just enrolled in school, but because of COVID her schools are still shut down, and so we haven't been able to get her in yet. At times in our life, when we think times are the most difficult, and are the most challenges it's really something that can end up being our greatest blessings. And I've seen that many times in my life. It's something that we see on the farm all the time, if the rain comes for 30 days straight – at the time it seems like the worst possible thing in the world because we can't get the work done, can't get it done timely. But six months later, when we're harvesting our crop and we have record crops – then comes the blessing that we see the law of the harvest, of how what seemed like the most difficult thing really ended up being something great. And I think we're seeing that in, in this circumstance with, you know, having to dump potatoes, you know, what seemed like a total disaster ended up being such a wonderful blessing, lead to a family in Kenya, on the other side of the world that could potentially have their lives changed forever. I just couldn't envision that at first. But I knew that as they had prayed, what could we experience, what could we learn from this COVID and from the whole tailored experience of being patient and waiting on the Lord's time for that to come to pass. I really feel like that has come to fruition and really just see somebody's live blessed as we learn to listen to the promptings of our Heavenly Father that come to us and follow them. It's really how we accomplish going about doing God's work that He would do if He was here Himself, to do our Heavenly Father's work. And I really want to envision and look just to see if Susan's family, a decade from now, a generation or two from now, to see what kind of difference that made. Something little, a little thing like dumping a few potatoes out in a, in a pile on the edge of a field, how that can lead to change the lives of many generations to come and really to see great things come to pass. That's really a testament to me of really how God works. We have to have trust in Him and what He allows us to go through and the trials that we have that that He – iti is maybe be what's best for us and really can be our greatest blessing. KaRyn 26:28 That was Ryan Cranney. LDS Living first shared Ryan and Susan's story in a written article this past spring, and we loved that we could get it in Ryan's own words here on the podcast. And because you know that we love to have all sides of the story here at This Is the Gospel, we did reach out to Susan to see if we could make that happen. But the time differences from Kenya to the US and technological challenges made it impossible right now. We're so grateful for her willingness to be part of the story and we will have more of her own words in our show notes as soon as we possibly can. You know, when story producer Katie Lambert was working on this story, she remarked to me several times, pretty much every time we talked about it, how much she enjoyed Ryan's unassuming demeanor. She is well acquainted with the Idaho farmer life and said that he is an Idaho farmer through and through. Matter of fact about the loss of a major part of his income for the year, and matter of fact about his decisions to give the potatoes away and matter of fact about his prompting to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with Susan and her family. I'm in awe of Ryan solid faith in God's timing and His plan for each of us. He understands something that I feel like I'm still trying to learn every single day. The loss of the potatoes and the money that those potatoes represented was a temporary and temporal setback. But the joy in feeding thousands or helping one soul come home to the Savior's fold, that's an eternal and everlasting joy, nothing temporal about it. And that kind of perspective is exactly what Elder Holland was talking about when he gave his beautiful 2012 General Conference address titled: "The First Great Commandment." There isn't time here to recount the entire address, we'll put it in our show notes, you really need to go and reread it. It's so good, and so important. But Elder Holland shares the story of the resurrected Savior coming to His apostles who have turned back to the work they did before they were first called to leave their nets and follow Him. And after showing them his power to feed the world, physically, by filling their empty fishing nets, He implores Peter three times, "Do you love me?" And when Peter answers have after each question with "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." The Savior responds with these words, "Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep." Elder Holland goes on to say, quote, "I am not certain just what our experience will be on judgement day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter, 'Did you love me?' I think he will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate and sometimes childish grasp of things. Did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all? Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength and with all thy mind. And if at such a moment, we can stammer out, 'Yeah, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee,' then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty. 'If ye love me, keep my commandments, 'Jesus said. So, we have neighbors to bless. Children to protect. The poor to lift up, the truth to defend. We have wrongs to make right and truth to share and good to do. In short, we have a life of devoted discipleship to give in demonstrating our love of the Lord. We can't quit and we can't go back. After an encounter with the living Son of the living God, nothing is ever again to be as it was before." End quote. When I think of Ryan's story, I think of this kind of love. This kind of loyalty. The kind of love that started with a pile of potatoes in an attempt to feed a hungry world. The kind of love that presented a willing heart that some may have seen as naive, ready to engage with someone very different from himself and his circumstances. And finally, the kind of love that knows that the true soul food of this sometimes treacherous, and confusing earth life, the real sustenance for those of us who hunger and thirst looks a lot less like potatoes, and much more like the making and keeping of sacred covenant as disciples of Jesus Christ. So this week, my friends, regardless of what your test results say, or a relentless year flings at you, I pray with all of my heart that we will seek to be filled with that kind of love. And as Elder Holland invites us to do, that we'll move forward, ever forward, to show that love by feeding His sheep. That's it for this episode of This Is the Gospel thank you to our storyteller Ryan Cranney and Susan. We'll have more information about them and their story including pictures, as well as the link to Elder Holland's talk in our show notes at LDS living.com/Thisisthegospel. You can also get more good stuff by following us on Instagram or Facebook at Thisisthegospel_podcast. The story in this episode is true and accurate as affirmed by our storyteller. And of course, if you have a story to share about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, please call or pitchline and leave us a story pitch. We're currently looking for Christmas stories. Stories about getting it right, getting Christmas right. The best pitches will be short, they'll be sweet and they'll have a clear sense of the focus of your story. So call 515-519-6179 and leave us a message. Did you know that when you leave a review of this podcast on Apple, stitcher or wherever you listen, it makes it so that more people can find the podcast? If you can't figure out how to leave a review, which I totally get, check out our highlights on our Instagram page for some tips. This episode was produced by me KaRyn Lay with help from Sarah Blak – bless you Sarah – and story production and editing from Katie Lambert. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six studios and our executive producer is Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast and other LDS Living podcasts at LDSliving.com/podcasts. Be well everybody! Stay safe. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Stories in this episode: Armed with yeast and flour, Ben jumps in to make a difference for his community after his involvement in two tragedies; Lecia grapples with three-in-the-morning anxiety until one simple practice brings peace; Chris finds himself stuck in the mud and snow with no way home—except to follow the nudges he gets from the Spirit. NOTE: Ben's story has a brief mention of suicide. If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please reach out to someone you trust. You can text 741741 from anywhere in the U.S. Or, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 SHOW NOTES To see pictures and more from this episode, go to LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel to view the shownotes. TRANSCRIPT Coming Soon Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
Decisions Determine Destiny
Stories in this episode: Vinnie’s experience of coming unto Christ is made up of small decisions that end up changing his heart in unexpected ways; Lisa's decisions about which hymns to sing at her son's funeral end up leading to a moment of profound healing. PLEASE NOTE: stories may contain themes addressing topics that are sensitive for some listeners. We suggest previewing before sharing with children or youth. Show Notes: To see pictures and links for this episode, go to LDSLiving.com/thisisthegospel Transcript: KaRyn 0:04 Welcome to This Is the Gospel, an LDS Living podcast where we feature real stories from real people who are practicing and living their faith every day. I'm your host, KaRyn Lay. Well, here we are barreling toward another election here in the US. And it seems that whether we like it or not, decisions and decision making is in the air and it's on our minds. I, for one, love it. The thinking about the decision making, not the actual making of the decisions that I find desperately difficult sometimes, but the thinking about decision making that intrigues me. I studied communications in school and the sheer amount of energy that researchers have put into understanding the who, what, where, and why of decision making is amazing. There are theories about the psychology of decisions, the neuroscience of decision making, the economy of decisions, everywhere you look, we human beings are trying to figure out how to make the right choice. Or if I go to my cynical place, we human beings are trying to figure out how to get people to make the decisions that we want them to make. But there's a reason that we've invested so much effort in trying to figure this out. Decisions can feel weighty and really big. In fact, the origin of the word "decision" actually speaks to that. It comes from a Latin root of a word that I can't pronounce well enough to say it here and embarrass myself, but it means to cut off. When we make a decision, when we choose to go one way or the other, we are literally cutting off another option and all the possibilities that that option represents. If that isn't enough to make you never want to make another decision, I don't know what is. I hate the loss of all that possibility. But one thing I think most of this research might be getting wrong in that careful analysis of the process is that decision making doesn't have to be so hard. As followers of Christ, we have access to some really powerful tools to help us know what to cut off and what to keep. And whether you are decisive or indecisive or somewhere in between, today's stories about the power of our decisions—both big and small—will get you thinking about what we choose and why we choose it. And how that has everything to do with moving closer to our best selves as disciples. Our first story comes from Vinnie, who, like most of us, couldn't see the collective power of the decisions he was making until much further down the road. Here's Vinnie. Vinnie 2:37 Small decisions in our lives can lead to either good or bad consequences later on. And it's the small decisions that sometimes we don't even realize we're making that can affect us in so many different ways. It all started very young. I grew up in a family just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I had great parents, my dad's Catholic and my mom was a convert to the Church. We never went without anything we needed, but we definitely weren't rich or well off in anyway. My parents both divorced when I was one, so pretty young. And they both remarried at some point when I was about two or three. And I don't know if it was the competitiveness between them. I was probably too naive as a young kid. But I was with my dad every other weekend. And we would go to the youth programs for the Catholic Church and see some of the people there or even sometimes there's activities for youth on Sundays or on the weekends that we were there. And when I was with my mom, we would go to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And so I got to have a taste a little bit of both. My mom didn't go to church a lot. She went often but not regularly. And we weren't a family that had you know, family home evening that had dinner together. And we weren't a family that prayed together. We didn't do regular fasting. I didn't even know what fasting was until I was 18, 19 years old. And so we didn't have a lot of those basic teachings that you see in the Church now. I think deep down, there was some feelings that there was a difference between the Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when I attended. Both churches teach great things. Both have great principles. But I felt more of something when I attended church with my mom, but I never understood what it was, never really knew what it was. At some point, my dad stopped taking us to church. And my mom, she let us make a decision when we were about 14 whether we continue to go to church or what we wanted to do. I have two older brothers, one is four years older, the other one is five years older. They both decided not to go to church anymore. They went a totally different direction. I think for me, personally, this small decision that I was making there was that I wanted to please my mom. And so I would go on occasion. Sometimes I would skip out or go do something else during church and then come back. And so there was some trouble that I got in, there's mischief that I did. And I was not living in any way that was to the standards of the Church. I would occasionally attend the youth meetings for the Church, got some good friends. I shouldn't say friends. They are friends, but one was a particular leader that really helped me. He was a Scout leader and I remember him even asking me, "When are you going to do this more and put more into this?" And I kept telling him, "No, I'm not going there." And so that was one of those decisions that I was like, "No, I don't want to do this." And I would get mad if people would say something about a mission or something like that because it wasn't in my plan. I had no desire to do that. It was at this point, when I was just about graduating high school, where I had to make some more decisions. And my brothers, I had watched them get into some serious trouble and some really bad situations. And I made the decision that I wanted to get away, I wanted to do everything I could to be the opposite of what I saw. And it was then I made the decision to go to Chicago, at 18 years old, to get away from everything. And at that point in my life, I was thinking away from everything. Away from church, away from family, I wanted to go do my own thing. By being the mama's boy that I was, my mom made me promise that I will at least try to go to church. So here I am in Chicago by myself, and I went a couple times to a ward that I found. And I was the individual that sat in the back, that wouldn't take the sacrament. And that as soon as it was over, I would run out the back. And I was the person that would complain to my mom, and one of my friends back East that nobody talks to me. But yet I was the one not making any effort at all to talk to anybody else. And the last time I had gone to that church, I was walking out, and an individual stopped me and he said, "Hey, I've never met you." And I said, "That's okay." I had the East-Coast attitude. And he says, "Who are you? Where are you from?" And we talked for a moment and I said, "Look, I gotta go." He goes, "Hey, I just want to let you know you're going to the wrong ward." I said, "Come on, how many words are in Chicago?" And he gave me the information of the other ward. And I said, "Okay, thanks. I'll see if I can make it." I walked out the door. And I shared this experience with my mom, and she goes, "You need to promise me you'll try one more time. You need to at least contact this bishop and try one more time, and then I won't bug you anymore about it." I said, "Okay." Now I've got my way, right? I can go do this one more time. It's been the same every single time. And I can move on and not worry about it. And it was here where I called the bishop and he was nice, but I was short. And he gave me directions and it may have been a week or two before actually went. It wasn't like right away. And so I get in the car and I follow directions. And I got absolutely lost. Here I am in Chicago, lost, no clue where I am. This was before cell phones. So I didn't have any way to call anyone or look anything up. I didn't have a GPS. So I looked at the directions. And I kind of set a prayer off the cuff and just said, "You know, if you want me to go to church, you're gonna have to find this because I don't want to go anymore. I'm done. I have other things I need to do and I don't want to do this anymore." And I looked down at the note and this thought came to me, and again, there's another decision, right? I said a prayer. Whether it was consciously or subconsciously, I wanted his help. But I didn't want it because of my own pride and natural-man self. And I looked down at the directions. And I just had this thought come to my mind, "What if it's a left instead of a right?" And it wasn't five minutes later, I was parked in the parking lot of the church and I was kind of dumbfounded. I was like, "You got to be kidding me." Here it was at this point where I went, "Well, I made the promise to my mom. I'll do this one time, and then I'm done." So I walked in and I sat, again, way in the back away from everyone. And I listened and as I sat there, I don't remember who was speaking, I don't remember the hymns that were played, but I remember being scared to death. Because all of a sudden, I felt something that I had never felt before and certainly never that strong, if I ever had felt it. I literally was like, "I don't know what this is," and it scared me. And as soon as they said, "Amen," I ran for those glass doors to get out of that building. I could not run fast enough. And all of a sudden, this man stops me. He said, "You must be Vinnie." And I looked at him and I said, "What?"And he said, "I'm Bishop Coleman." I mean, here's a bishop that has this whole ward, he knew that I was there and what my name was because he knew every member of his ward. And he knew that he had to run off of that stage to get to me. And he grabbed me and he said, "Come talk to me for a few minutes." And it wasn't long, it was just brief. We sat down in his office and talked for a few minutes. And again, I'm scared to death. I'd never felt this feeling. But I'm looking at this man going, "How on earth did you do this?" And then that's where a series of decisions and choices in my life changed everything. He introduced me to a sweet, sweet lady. She was over the young single adults at that time. And she said, "Come be with us. We have these great single adults here, come upstairs to the classroom." And I said, "No, I cannot do that." And she got my information, I got hers, and I left. And I was like, "I'm not doing this. I can't do this anymore." And I ran away, not wanting to go back, but also deep down realizing something just happened. She was so sweet to reach out to me. And I couldn't say no, because I knew deep down there was something there. And she was a convert from Brazil. And she loves the gospel, absolutely loves the gospel and loves people. And all of her kids were away at college. And she took me in as one of her own boys and taught me and changed my life forever. So as I was developing a testimony here. I was working in Chicago and also going to school. And in between work and school, I had about an hour of time and I would sit there and I would read the Book of Mormon as I would eat lunch. Here I was going to church and reading the Book of Mormon for the first time ever in my life. And I hung out a lot with these young single adults, they were so much fun. And I remember one weekend, we were all together, we were playing games, and there were some returning sisters and some return elders that we were with. And they were talking about their mission. They were talking about experiences that they had people that they taught. And I don't know if they'd planned this for me or what, but it worked. Because they didn't pressure me. They didn't ask me about whether or not I was going to serve a mission. They were just being friends. But all of a sudden, it started to stir within me because during this year of being in Chicago by myself, I had began to understand what the Atonement really meant, and what changing your life really meant. And it was here, as I was listening to my friends talk about their mission. And I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to share what I learned. And that next day was fast Sunday. I had not born my testimony since probably when I was a young kid. And I got up and I poured my testimony about a desire to serve a mission. It was then that the bishop grabbed me right after again and said, "Oh, we're gonna plan this." Next thing I know, I've got my papers turned in. When I made that decision to serve a mission, I actually called my dad and told him that I was going to serve. And he had already helped me line up a job that I would have after graduating from college. And he was really disappointed at me. He wanted me to take that job and wanted me to help take care of my mom. And our conversations didn't end the greatest. And I didn't say much to him afterwards. I don't think we talked for over a month. And when I called my mom to tell her it was an interesting conversation too. When I called my mom and I said, "Mom, I've made a decision." She said, "You're not getting married." I said, "No Mom, I'm not getting married." And she goes, "Well you're not coming home." And I said, "Well, you already knew that." And I said, "But I'm going to go serve a mission." And the phone just went silent. And it felt like it was forever. And then after however long, she said, "Are you sure?" And I had to stand up to my sweet mom and say, "Yeah, I'm sure." And she just couldn't believe it. All those little decisions that I had made along the way, even from a little kid, just wanting to follow my mom and please my mom made a huge difference in my life. You know, I made that decision that I wanted to leave home and never go back and have something different than what my brothers had and what my brothers' decisions were. My brothers are good guys. And they're trying to do what they feel is right. And I still look up to them in many ways. But I wanted to do something different to do it my way. Little did I know that my way would turn into the Lord's way and how thankful I am because now I've got the most beautiful wife in the world. I've kept six amazing children that are building testimonies. And we're doing our best to live the gospel. I think we need to create our own way. And if you truly give your heart to Jesus Christ, and you want to make Christ happy because you've built that relationship with Him, then you make the choices necessary, big or small. I look forward to that day when I can see Christ and he opens his arms. I know in the scriptures that says he'll say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." I don't want him to say a word. I just want to fall down and hug him because he made it possible for me to be forgiven. And he made it possible for me to change everything in my life. And now I have a better way of life. KaRyn 17:15 That was Vinnie. You know, what I love about Vinnie story is that at the outset, it might seem like it's too small to matter. At least that fear is one of the things that Vinnie said initially kept him from deciding to call the pitch line when he first felt the stirring. But friends, do you know what an epic story is? It's nothing more than a collection of tiny moments of decision that build and build and build upon one another until something has to break, something has to transform. And the transformation is only possible because of all those small moments that led up to it. In the case of Vinnie's story, the transformation is a testament to the Atonement—from reluctant people pleaser and mama's boy to a willing servant— all in the span of a half a lifetime. That is epic and inspiring in its scope. And what's coming next is worth noting too. Generations starting from those decisions that Vinnie made, will walk toward their own epic story of building and deciding and building and transforming. And that's big, that's really big. Our final story of decisions that make all the difference comes from Lisa. A quick note, Lisa's story involves an accident that might be difficult for sensitive listeners to hear. Here's Lisa. Lisa 18:37 I was aware of three things as I struggled back to consciousness. The first of those was there was a significant amount of pain. The second was I was pretty sure that my son Michael had passed away. And I didn't know why I thought that. And the third thing was I was enveloped in an overwhelming, palpable peace. I opened my eyes and I was in a hospital room and my husband, Dean, and his brother Philip were sitting there in the room with me. And the first thing I asked was, "Did Michael pass away?" I asked my husband and he said that yes, Michael passed away. And my next question was, "Why do I feel such peace?" I was very confused because losing Michael would make sense with me feel, you know, if I felt devastated and, you know, crushed. But peace didn't make any sense to me. Earlier that day, we had gone to see a melodrama that my sister was in. And the night of the first performance, no one else in my family could go but I went and I came home and just raved about it. She was so cute. And she sold the show and it was hilarious. And so after I told my family about it, my daughter Abby, who was 14 said, "Well, I want to go." And so I said, "Sure. We can go." Before it was time to go, my son Michael, who had turned, just turned 23, was there and I said, "Michael, you want to come with us?" And he decided he would go with us. So the three of us went to the melodrama. And it was just a nice evening, then it was time to go. We walked out of the church house. And as we walk to the car, my son said, and this is a line from a Brian Regan sketch, that comedian Brian Regan. He said, "Backseat middle, my feet on the hump." And that was Michael's way of telling Abby that she could sit in the front seat because he knew that she loved it. So he sat in the back, and we all got in. And our family has always worn seatbelts. Michael did not put on his seatbelt that night. And, you know, I didn't check. He's 23. We just drove off. And we were about a mile away from the church house when I entered an intersection. This is in a residential, it's 25-miles-an-hour. And we were hit by a pickup truck that was being driven by a man who was intoxicated. The onboard computer said he was going more than 80 miles an hour. He did not tap his brakes and it hit right behind my door. So the door right behind the driver's side door and spun us around. Our car hit a parked truck hard enough that it broke its axle. And during that, Michael was thrown from the car. He was killed instantly. My last memory is about two blocks before the accident. And then my next memory is five hours later, when I woke up in the hospital. I was in one room in the emergency room. My daughter was in the other. My husband got there and he was like, I don't like, he didn't know where which room he should go in. And he was told that I was unconscious. And that there was a nurse with me. But Abby was awake. So he went in there because that's where he was needed. After a while, he came into my room and I was unconscious. And there was a nurse who was holding my hand and crying. And that is just so tender to me. I don't know who she is. I don't worry about how do not I have any memories of the emergency room. But she knew what had happened. She was holding my hand and crying with me. And that's just very, that's sacred to me that this good woman, this good nurse—it wasn't all about just the medical, you know, medical procedures. There was some real caring and loving there for these people who had been through this. I was released later that morning. I had a bad concussion. And most of my injuries had to do with wherever the seat belt was holding me holding me back. But things weren't life threatening. I did have a vertebrae that was broken in my neck, but nothing that impacted my spine. You know, that was all fine. Abigail was released the night before. That morning as it got to be morning, my husband started calling our child or other children and my parents and letting them know what had happened. And our children started gathering and that was a real gift to be together to have them there. You know, of course, emotionally, we're pretty fragile. Physically, I was it was months before I didn't have a great deal of pain every day. At that point, I was walking but not before. Most nights, I'd fall asleep for a while and the pain would wake me up and it was some nerve pain and there isn't good pain medications that help with nerve pain. It was so painful, it was just an agony. So I would just kind of pace the floor and, you know, try to get through it. And one night in the middle of that, I had the thought, "He did this to you." And it was true. The drunk driver is the one that had caused this pain. You know the pain, the physical pain, but also the emotional pain. And that was immediately followed by, immediately afterwards, the words came into my mind, "There is nothing worthy about that thought." And I knew that dwelling on that thought would take me farther from God. And I desperately needed God. So I just turned away from that thought. And I didn't ever have another thought along those lines. And every few years, the Lord teaches me more about gratitude. And it's a principle that I've really come to love for the blessings that it gives us. And I just kept feeling, I just kept having the recurring thought that during this saddest, most difficult time, you know, that the hardest thing that our family had been through, that I needed to find a way to be grateful, to still praise God and thank him for his blessings. And, of course, I was continually grateful for the peace. I am well aware that there have been many good, faithful people who have lost a loved one that didn't have immediate peace like that. I don't know why we had that immediate piece. Everyone's path is different. But that was such a gift. I mean, of course, we're very sad. And, but you, I couldn't, to say we were devastated, is taking it too far. Because that peace didn't allow for devastation. You know, sadness, yes. A great deal of sadness. But we weren't devastated. So of course, I was grateful for that. I was also grateful to have my family around. I was also very grateful because our ward and neighbors and extended family just rallied around us, you could feel that their prayers were helping you. There was more food here then we could eat, you know, just people were so kind. So of course, it was, I was grateful for those things. And, but I still kept having the feeling that we needed to find a way to be grateful. And I have always loved hymns. From the time I was a little girl. I remember having spiritual experiences in sacrament meeting as we sing hymns. So it was very natural for me to, you know, as I'm trying to decide, "So how do we do that?" my thought turned to the hymns. And we're planning a funeral. And try to find some hymns that were praising the Lord. That's, that, that was the thought that I had, so that we should sing hymns of praise during the funeral. We started with, "I Love to See the Temple" because we always sing that song to our family. And Michael loved the temple. So we started with that, that was the opening hymn, was a congregational hymn. And then partway through we sing, "Sing Praise to Him." And because it was my thought that we should sing hymns of praise, I tried to do that while we sang. Um, because I knew it was Michael's time, that his work on the earth was finished, I could sing and mean it. Well, maybe I shouldn't say mean it. Have faith that it was true, even if I didn't know it. "That within the kingdom of his might lo,. all is just, and all is right". So that's what I tried to do when we, as we sang. I tried to, to praise the Lord, because he had grown to be overwhelming peace and acknowledge that my son's work was done on the earth. And I wasn't worried about where Michael was. I knew where he was. We sang as a closing hymn, "Press Forward Saints." And I chose that for a couple reasons. It felt like it's the message Michael would want those that he loved to hear, that all of us might press forward with steadfast faith in Christ. And then at the end, it has those three beautiful alleluias at the end of every verse, so we also got to praise the Lord. And it was interesting. Both my family and my husband's family, we all sing. I wish we sang with more gusto in the Church. In that funeral, we did. It was, it was loud. And during that closing hymn, there just came such a feeling of joy into the room. As I thought back on it, I actually think because every death is actually also a homecoming, I think it's my belief that the Lord allowed us to feel some of the joy of his homecoming. The song ended, we had the closing prayer. And as we walked out, there was just so much joy in the room, I was actually self-consciousness. We walked out behind the casket, everyone's standing, you know, obviously watching the family as they walk out, and I could not wipe the smile off my face. And I was a little self-conscious, they're gonna think I didn't even love him for smiliing as I walk up my son's casket, but there was real joy in that room. I've never felt anything like that, if you know, before, it was just very sweet. The pain of losing Michael that had been, it had felt like a raw, open wound. which I'd never experienced peace and sorrow like that. At the same time, I thought being at peace meant you're happy, you know, your content. And I learned that wasn't true. But that raw, open wound, it had been very skillfully stitched closed.The pain wasn't over. But real healing had begun. And I know that the Great Physician did stitch that wound closed. Um, we've continued to mourn. You know, we still miss him. I cried I think pretty much every day for the first year. You know, I miss his smile. He had amazing hugs. And I just want to fill his arms around me, you know, Michael was the happiest baby I have ever had. And Michael has always been very laid back. He loves everyone. He's always loved everyone. And he was also the kind of kid that, as a parent, if I needed him to actually hear what I was saying, I had to grab his face. And say, "Michael, I'm going to ask you to repeat." Now, as an adult. I didn't say that anymore. But you know, growing up, I'm going to ask you to repeat what I tell you. And he, when he was about 14, or 15, I asked him one day I said, "Michael, where are you when I think you're listening to me, but you're not." And he looked really sheepish and he said, "On a medieval battlefield," which was fantastic. I love that. Before we lost Michael, I would have assumed that when you were mourning someone that you lost that petty much all of your crying and mourning would have been in the privacy of your own home. Um, that was my assumption and that is not how it's turned out. It hits you. Sometimes in the middle of Walmart, you know. There have been times when I really struggled to get out the door because something just made me think of Michael. So I'd just really quickly get out the door and go cry in my car. But I have found the majority of my crying and mourning for Michael. Well, the majority of crying about Michael has happened during sacrament meeting and I didn't want to do it during Sacrament meeting. I wanted to be home where it was private. But I'll be honest, some of the tears are just about missing him. But most of the tears have been gratitude for the Savior's Atoning sacrifice, and that he has overcome both physical and spiritual death. I have all, I've understood intellectually, that our plight would be desperate without the Savior sacrifice for us. But losing Michael has made it very real to me, how desperately hopeless everything would be if it weren't for the Savior, Jesus Christ. The fact that the Savior overcomes death and sin is very concrete and real to me now. I do believe that the small thing I did, of just finding hymns and then trying to express real gratitude as I sang them, I believe that that small thing resulted in a huge amount of healing. KaRyn 34:58 That was Lisa. Every time I hear her story, I'm struck with the gift that she received from the Spirit to let her move past blame into peace. I've never lost a child or even a close loved one at the hand of someone else, but I imagine that is not the way it plays out for everyone in a similar situation. Our hearts are drawn in love and sustaining for those who are struggling right now to make peace with that particular wound. And I think I learned something powerful about decisions from Lisa's experience. Making the right decision for us, even one guided by the Spirit, does not exempt us from the experiences of the mortal condition. Lisa chose to follow the prompting to let those feelings of blame go and that offered her peace of mind. But it couldn't protect her from her grief. And isn't that exactly why we chose to follow Christ in the first place? It's why we were so desperate to come to earth and have agency, we wanted to experience life. We wanted to experience all of it. And sometimes I think I put too much weight on my decisions, and I turn them into something more than what they actually are. Making the next best decision matters, but not because it's going to guarantee me some protection from pain or embarrassment or helped me maintain my pride. I mean, I love to be right as much as the next guy, but if I'm making my decisions with the goal of being right, I think I'm skirting a sacred opportunity to get it right instead. If you're a longtime listener to the podcast, then you probably remember our episode "The Paths We Choose" from season one. It had a really moving story from Chris and Eric, whose decisions had led them down some wandering paths. Their story reminded us that Jesus Christ is the restorer of paths, especially wandering ones, and that through the Atonement, all roads lead us back to him the minute that we turn our hearts in his direction. It's a miracle really. And maybe knowing that makes us wonder why we even try. If Christ can make up the difference of our failures and fix all of our poor choices, why should I spend my energy like so many researchers trying to figure out how to make the best choice? Well, I think the answer to this is in the realization that our decisions matter because they are a tool for proving where our hearts lie and with whom our hearts align. In the October General Conference, Elder Bednar reminded us that, quote: "Tests in the school of mortality are a vital element of our eternal progression. Interestingly, however, the word 'test' is not found even one time and the scriptural text of the standard works in English. Rather, such words as 'prove,' 'examine,' and 'try' are used to describe various patterns of demonstrating appropriately our spiritual knowledge about understanding of and devotion to our Heavenly Father's eternal plan of happiness, and our capacity to seek for the blessings of the Savior's Atonement. He who authored the plan of salvation described the very purpose of our mortal probation using the words 'prove,' 'examine' and 'try' in ancient and modern scripture. 'And we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever the LORD their God shall command to them." End quote. Making decisions, having a choice to make, that's all part of this glorious plan of salvation that we signed up for. We chose it. It's an opportunity to show God here on this imperfect and flawed earth with our imperfect and flawed brains and wills, that we choose him again, and again, and again. And while our decisions don't determine our divinity, they do determine our eternal destiny, which is to find ourselves on the right hand of our Savior, Jesus Christ. So we pour our hearts into the work of making the next best decision, to say that prayer and try one more time to find the church in Chicago even though it would be easier to just go home. Or to hand over our feelings of anger and blame to the Savior instead of letting them fester in our hearts. We pour over those decisions because they have the power to move us one step closer to that destiny, and we're going to mess up. We'll allow those good decisions to build us up in pride sometimes, and maybe we'll unrighteously judge another person for the decisions that they're laboring with. But ultimately, if we choose to recognize that our decisions are a proving ground, think of it like a series of teeny tiny pop quizzes that will lead to our epic transformation through Christ. We can worry less, and love more, and try again tomorrow. That's it for this episode of "This Is the Gospel." Thank you to our storytellers Vinnie and Lisa for sharing their stories and their decisions with us. We'll have a link to Elder Bednar's talk, as well as more information about both of our storytellers in our show notes at ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel. You can also get more good stuff throughout the week by following us on Instagram or Facebook @thisisthegospel_podcast. All of the stories on this podcast are true and accurate, as affirmed by our storytellers. And of course, if you have a story to share about living the Gospel of Jesus Christ and deciding to follow Him, please call our pitch line and leave us a story pitch. The best pitches are going to be short and sweet and have a clear sense of the focus of your story. Call 515-519-6179 to leave us a message. If today's stories have touched you or made you think about your discipleship just a little more deeply, will you share that with us? You can leave a review of the podcast on Apple, Stitcher, or whatever platform you listen on. And if you can't figure out how to leave a review, which I totally get, you can go to our Instagram page in the highlights for some tips. Every review of this podcast helps us to show up for more people who are looking for good things to listen to. This episode was produced by me, KaRyn Lay, with editing and story production help from Erika Free. It was scored, mixed and mastered by Mix at Six Studios. Our executive producer is as always Erin Hallstrom. You can find past episodes of this podcast, including that episode from season one that we mentioned, "The Paths We Choose," and other LDS Living podcasts at ldsliving.com/podcasts. Show Notes + Transcripts: http://ldsliving.com/thisisthegospel See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.